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This article is part of the supplement: Proceedings of the 10th Bio-Ontologies Special Interest Group Workshop 2007. Ten years past and looking to the future

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Gene Ontology annotations: what they mean and where they come from

David P Hill1, Barry Smith2, Monica S McAndrews-Hill1 and Judith A Blake1*

Author Affiliations

1 The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, ME, USA

2 Department of Philosophy and Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, University at Buffalo, NY, USA

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BMC Bioinformatics 2008, 9(Suppl 5):S2  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-9-S5-S2

Published: 29 April 2008


To address the challenges of information integration and retrieval, the computational genomics community increasingly has come to rely on the methodology of creating annotations of scientific literature using terms from controlled structured vocabularies such as the Gene Ontology (GO). Here we address the question of what such annotations signify and of how they are created by working biologists. Our goal is to promote a better understanding of how the results of experiments are captured in annotations, in the hope that this will lead both to better representations of biological reality through annotation and ontology development and to more informed use of GO resources by experimental scientists.